Handling bad PR the right way

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Jason Wong
Jason Wong
If you have a friend who would benefit from this memo, please take a second to send this to them. They can subscribe here. Every week I write a memo on my learnings as a founder, learnings that might just make you some $ or time.

When you run a brand, it’s expected that you’re going to get hate. The truth is, your brand isn’t for everybody and you can’t please everyone. The thing is that every brand owner will react to it differently, and how you react to it will bring you certain unexpected outcome. 
There’s no right or wrong way because I’m not going to tell you how you should feel when someone trashes the thing you poured your heart and soul into making, but what if I tell you that you can turn negative PR into a revenue generating opportunity?
If you guys have been on Twitter, you’ve seen the huge success with Jones Road Beauty, ran by beauty legend Bobbi Brown. A few months ago there was a little scuffle between an influencer and the brand, and it’s a textbook definition of how you should respond to bad PR, let’s take a look.
If you’re on beauty TikTok, there’s a high chance that you have heard about a recent review of Jones Road’s new What The Foundation by Meredith Duxbury. 
If you’re not familiar or just want a recap, here’s some context. 
Meredith Duxbury is a makeup artist on TikTok who has 15M+ followers on the platform. She mainly shares her glam makeup looks and is pretty known for wearing a lot of foundation (aka the Foundation Queen). In my opinion, makeup is a way for an individual to express themselves, so I honestly have no comment on how, where, and what to use to achieve their desired looks. But as you know, in the TikTok culture, people just like… to comment (or cancel, or give their 6 cents in everything). 
Anyways, back to the main point of the story. Meredith tried Jones Road’s new What The Foundation, a product that claims to provide light to medium coverage (when a tinted moisture balm meets traditional foundation). As someone like Meredith who prefers wearing more foundation, you would immediately think this may not be the best foundation for her. However, Meredith did review the foundation regardless and it was clear the foundation appeared quite patchy on her skin. 
Meredith said, “Uh… What is this?” after applying more foundation than directed, followed by “This will be a ‘no’ for me” after using a sponge and a brush to attempt to blend the foundation. Honestly, with this context, you probably think, “Well… it’s just not a foundation for her. It’s no big deal. Products are not meant for EVERYONE and people can have their own opinions on them.” 
Yes. That’s what I thought, too. However, the comments are overflowing with criticism such as, “Do influencers not do their research on how they’re supposed to use products” or “You applied half of the container” or “Hurting a brand because you didn’t use it properly.” Many of the commenters even thought it was a satire video, which part of me really hopes it was. Until… it wasn’t. 
But here’s when it gets juicy, Bobbi Brown’s response was honestly legendary. She first shared a video on how she loves learning new makeup techniques everyday and attempts to use a “similar” amount of foundation that Meredith uses on herself (low key jokes around this technique). After, she posted a video to clear some confusion around the Jones Road foundation. 
As a brand, it’s inevitable that people will have negative feedback for your product. They could do it out of spite or do it because they don’t like the product or it’s just not for them. There’s no need to reply to those who are intentionally hurting the brand, but for the people who genuinely are using the product wrong, you need to turn that opportunity for more content. 
It’s easy for us to ignore and think that people just don’t get it, but the reality is that often times consumers have a bad experience because of the lack of knowledge and not because they’re looking for a fight to pick. The more you let bad reviews pile up, the stronger the message gets when people read the comments. This is the biggest mistake I’ve seen brand owners make.
How to Bring The Attention BACK to your brand
Negative feedbacks to your brand is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean that you should just accept it.
If the feedback is valid and constructive, it’s a good opportunity for you to improve from them. A practice that all customer-facing positions do at my brand is to gather any feedback from social media comments, DMs, and customer support emails and put them together in a report at the end of each month. Sorting them by product, shipping, and web experience, and discuss as a team on what are opportunities to improve. The caveat of working on the brand ourselves is that oftentimes we’re blinded to the fact that things are broken, and have this notion that we know everything. 
People that are paying us are telling us something is broken, it’s making them not buy from us the second time, we need to listen to them.
Some things we do to turn negative feedback into revenue generating opportunities
  1. If it’s a Tiktok comment trashing your product, reply to it with the angle that you heard them and this is why it is the way it is.
  2. If the Tiktok comment has genuine and constructive feedback, let them know that it’s a work in progress and that you’re going to loop them in on your journey to iterate. You can make a whole series out of this to get even more content out there. 
  3. Replying to comments in public to show others that you’re actively listening and you have solutions to the commenter’s problems. If you have a flexible exchange policy, demonstrate that by offering to send a new product in your reply comment. 
  4. Use the negative feedback as inspiration for copy and creatives, knowing that these are the pushbacks that people have and you stand your ground on why your product is still the right one. 
Short memo for this week! Hope you guys had an awesome week and I’ll see you guys soon!
🎙 This Week's Building Blocks Episode
Ep. 24 Building a Loyal Community through Education with Emily Miethner - Ecommerce Building Blocks
Emily on building community:
“Giving customers an opportunity to see a diverse range of people using the products…so they feel like ‘Okay, I can relate to that, I think I can do that, I can see myself doing that, I can kind of relate to that person’ that’s been a big part of it”
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Jason Wong
Jason Wong @eggroli

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